Even putting the final margin of Friday night’s clinical 52-17 win aside, the Virginia Cavaliers should have left Scott Stadium with their heads held high after a thorough domination in all three phases of play over William & Mary. Last week, I highlighted better pass protection, defensive preparedness, and taking care of the ball as the simplest keys to victory. UVA (2-0, 1-0 ACC), now ranked 25th in the AP Poll, didn’t look so good in the turnover margin but was otherwise in complete control. Let’s look back.
The offensive line looked great
Quarterback Bryce Perkins had a reasonably efficient game: 16-26 for 192 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall said afterward that “if there is a time to have those [interceptions], now was the time”, and he couldn’t have been more accurate. Brennan Armstrong had a good dress rehearsal for the QB1 role he’ll likely assume next season, going 9-10 for 103 yards and one pick that was returned 47 yards for a touchdown late in the third quarter. The line even got up in run support, allowing first-year Mike Hollins to run for 78 yards and two scores on 11 carries. We’ll see where he is in the depth chart come Monday. Perkins rushed for 68 yards and one score on seven carries.
No shutout, but the defense was rock-solid
130 passing yards and 63 on the ground for the Tribe and 75 total yards of offense through three quarters? Throw in the fact that the UVA defense had as many touchdowns as the W&M offense, and that entire unit from the coaches on down has plenty to be proud of. They should continue playing at a high level next Saturday night against Florida State after the Seminoles’ nail-biting overtime win over Louisiana-Monroe.
Is the atmosphere back at Scott Stadium?
Watching the early part of the game from the Hill, I and many others were very impressed with the student section’s turnout for an early September game against an FCS opponent. For the entire first half, they were loud and active, waving shakers in a scene that almost resembled the SEC at times. UVA would be well-advised to keep that giveaway going and maybe even expand it for the FSU game, which is rumored to have a potential attendance of 60,000 or more — that would be the highest-attended game in Charlottesville since 61,124 against Virginia Tech in 2011. Before that, the Cavaliers’ most recent game with 60,000 or more in attendance was against USC in 2008.
#UVA students and @Hoo_Crew, you were AWESOME Friday night! Best student crowd since 2008. Let's break the record this Saturday night for @UVAFootball!#GoHoos | #TheStandard pic.twitter.com/nJJaPR0gGZ— Virginia Cavaliers (@VirginiaSports) September 8, 2019
A few more notes about the gameday enhancements at Scott Stadium...
I made some mental notes about the changes to the gameday experience at the stadium UVA announced a couple weeks ago:
- The new scan-your-own-ticket machine made getting into the stadium much faster.
- I loved the new concession system. You first grab your food (hot dog, nachos, a pretzel, barbecue, etc.), then a drink from a few that have already been poured so you don’t have to wait, then take it to the cashier. If you got the larger cup of soda, that’s where you ask for a bottomless sticker if you want it.
- From what I heard (I didn’t go in myself), the new beer gardens were a failure — understaffed, overpriced, and obviously in a very inconvenient location without even a TV to watch the game while you drank your beer/cider/wine.
- After the game, the Cavalier Marching Band waited to play the Good Old Song until after they’d repeated their halftime routine of Bohemian Rhapsody. At that point, there might have been 1,000 people left in the stadium outside of the student section. I’m not sure what that was all about, but they should get back to it after playing the “U-V-A, Go Hoos Go” chant.